L'Ensemble chamber music group presents 'France and Fair A-Field'

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SHAFTSBURY — The L'Ensemble chamber musical group will present a two-part concert series, "France and Far A-Field," celebrating its third season in residence at Oldcastle Theatre.

"French Bouquet," featuring the music of Saint-Saens, Ravel, Chausson, Franck and Allen Shawn, will be performed Sunday, March 13 at 3 p.m.; "Pick Yourself Up," an afternoon of songs with lyrics by Broadway and Hollywood greats Dorothy Fields and Sheldon Harnick, will be given Sunday, April 10 at 3 p.m. Oldcastle Theatre is located at 331 Main St., Bennington..

Highlights of the "French Bouquet" program will include Franck's Piano Quintet and Saint-Saen's "Havanaise." Bennington College professor Shawn, a student of the famed French teacher Nadia Boulanger, will have a work for for solo piano performed by Temple University Piano Department Chair, Charles Abramovic.

The performers will be Ida Faiella, Soprano; Charles Abramovic, Piano; Dale Stuckenbruck, Violin; Uli Speth, Violin; Olivia Koppell, Viola; and Jesse Levy, Cello.

Fields and Harnick, the subjects of "Pick Yourself Up," reside at the very top-tier of American Songbook luminaries. One of the first successful Tin Pan Alley and Hollywood female songwriters, Fields wrote more than 400 songs for Broadway musicals and films. (In what would be called a "casting coup" in one of those 1930s' movies, Fields' son David Lahm will be the pianist for April 10 concert.) With Jerome Kern, she worked on the movie version of "Roberta" and also on their greatest success, "Swing Time," with its classic "The Way You Look Tonight" earning the Fields/Kern team an Oscar for Best Song. Her many Broadway successes include "Redhead" and "Sweet Charity." With her brother Herbert, she wrote the book for "Annie Get Your Gun."

At age 91, Harnick is not resting on laurels that include three Tony Awards and a Pulitzer Prize. This theatre season alone, he has been deeply involved with five productions of his work, including the current celebrated Broadway revival of "Fiddler on the Roof"; the upcoming Broadway revival of "She Loves Me"; a reconstructed "Rothschild & Sons," recently performed off-Broadway; "A Wonderful Life," a 2015 production at the Goodspeed Opera House; and a new opera about Lady Bird Johnson (which will have its premiere in Texas in April).

The performers for the April 10 concert will be Ida Faiella, Soprano; David Lahm, Piano; Bruce Williamson, Woodwinds; and David Finck, Bass.

Tickets for both concerts are $25 and $10 for students. Tickets are available at www.oldcastletheatre.org or by calling 802-447-0564.

Founded in the mid 1970s, L'Ensemble's musical mission has always been to stretch the definition of chamber music. L'Ensemble performs all facets of chamber music from Bach's unaccompanied sonatas to fully-staged productions. Under the direction of founder and artistic director Ida Faiella, L'Ensemble's repertoire includes the classics and much more, from jazz-influenced works to cabaret arrangements of the standards by such composers as Irving Berlin, Stephen Sondheim, George Gershwin and Leonard Bernstein. Visit the group's web site at www.lensembleconcerts.org.


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